Lisa Fargazer emerged from the kitchen, toting two full buckets of water. It was late evening–two hours past sunset–and she was on her last chore for the day. The cells of the asylum inmates had very ingenious contraptions that allowed delivery of water without anyone having to enter the cells, and it was her duty to check them twice a day, to make sure they were filled.
She had, a few days ago, quietly eavesdropped on Miss Hienrichs and Dr. Lionheart, learning much in the process–about Arnold’s condition, the raven, the werewolf… It was all very worrying. She wished she could go and visit Arnold herself, but between her duties here at the asylum and the curfew, which Cyan had explained to her yesterday, she simply couldn’t make it. All she could do was question those who did go to see him–Cyan, Tepic, sometimes Dr. Maddox, though she was still rather shy of her.
She was ruminating on these things as she entered the cell block and set down one of the buckets. She started to lift the other bucket up to the first cell’s water supply when she felt a presence behind her. Her head whipped around, and she saw Mr. Canergak standing there, staring at her. “Oh!” she exclaimed, quickly setting down the bucket. She turned around and bobbed a quick almost-curtsy.
Canergak continued to stare at her for a moment longer, before he merely said, “Continue.”
Lisa nodded and picked up the bucket again. She still hadn’t figured out if he recognized her from the abortive attempt to rescue Tenderpaws. He’d given no indication that he did, but Lisa rather thought he was the sort of person who didn’t reveal *anything* if he could help it.
As she filled the water supply of the first cell, its occupant, Elizabeth, tapped on the glass. “Pretty little child. I need a new carrier body…this one’s locked up. Give me yours?” Lisa made no reply, and Elizabeth sighed, tapping the glass lightly with the fingers of one hand, a supply of paper held in her other hand. “Pretty little girl….Pretty little vessel…”
“Do not heed the specimen,” Canergak said. “It can’t harm you, even if it was what it thought it was.”
Elizabeth banged her hand on the glass, bloodying both. “I AM DEMON, OLD MAN. I deserve new flesh!”
Lisa, meanwhile, seethed inside at hearing the small man call the woman a specimen, but she continued her work. The woman in the next cell was asleep, but the one beyond, the engineer Beatrixe, wasn’t. “Hello!” Beatrixe said cheerfully, and Lisa smiled at her, though she didn’t pause in her work.
As she worked her way up the other side, glad the man Sikes was also asleep, Elizabeth slapped her bloody hand against the glass again. “Old man, you know what I am. Why do you keep me here? I need souls and flesh to survive!” Lisa saw Canergak sneer slightly at that. “You deny me what all higher level demons are rewarded with. For this you will pay one day, mark me.”
Lisa finished her chore, being careful not to look into Tenderpaws’s cell. She glanced at Canergak, shrugged a little to herself at his continued silence, and started toward the barred door with the empty buckets.
“What is your name?”
She stopped short, and turned around reluctantly to answer Canergak’s question. “Lisa, sir.”
“Did you know a child named Hoyt?”
She paused, thinking. She knew Hoyt was the urchin Cortman had killed, but she hadn’t ever really talked to him. “Not really. I think I saw him only a few times.”
As Elizabeth smacked her open palm against the glass, distracted by the blood smeared on it, Canergak said, “He used to run my errands around this city. I am in need of a new runner.”
Lisa held herself to utter stillness, not wanting her sudden excitement to show. “Do you wish me to ask any of the other children, sir?”
“Only if you do not want the job yourself.”
“I can do it, sir.”
“As you wish, then. You will start tomorrow.”
Lisa nodded, and bobbed another curtsy. She followed him out of the cell block and down the stairs, though at the landing, he continued on down to his laboratory and she made for the kitchen. Once inside, she let her smile break through. She had vowed to at least try to do what Arnold would do in this situation–care for Dr. Solsen, care for the inmates, and watch Canergak. With this addition to her job, that last task just might become a little easier.